How To Increase Your Value in the Eyes of Your Prospective Clients

Here are a series of questions that you may want to know the answers to in order to differentiate you and your services and be a success with your clients:
  • How do professionals increase their value in the eyes of their clients? 
  • What is it that the best professionals do that allow them to grab the attention of prospective clients who are too busy to see anyone else?
  • Why do clients prefer to do business with one firm over all the others?
  • How do professionals turn onetime customers into lifelong clients?
These are questions I have been asking for years. I have been, in a word, obsessed. I have wanted to know the secret to why certain firms won a majority of clients business ever since I entered the workforce.

I am pleased to say, that I believe I have actually "discovered" the patterns of why clients choose one firm over all the others vying for their business.

I used to think clients bought products and solutions and services based on their advantages over competing products, solutions, and services. Then I thought it was advantages as well as costs.

Perhaps these aspects were reasons why clients bought at one time. But, as everything does with time, things change. Today clients are more sophisticated, have less time to just meet with vendors, and are walking the razor's edge because the people responsible for delivering client shareholder results, need ideas, solutions, and strategies to achieve their business objectives. And if you cannot help achieve their business objectives, you are noise.

Here is what clients want from you today--if you desire to become the best professional you can possibly be.

Enhancing Your Clients' Strategic Plans

The best professionals, the top people in their industry, have learned the value they bring is highest when it is aligned to their clients' strategic plans. This means your value comes from your ability to properly apply your services to the most critical aspects of your clients' strategic plans.
As a professional, you do not have to be a strategic planner for clients; it does mean that clients have to have strategic plans and do the strategic planning. Strategic plans are always the client's responsibility. The responsibility for strategic plans cannot be outsourced. Yes, strategic plans can be helped along with the likes of consulting firms like BCG, McKinsey, and Accenture. Accepting the plans and implementing them belongs to the responsibility of the client's stakeholders. Helping clients achieve their objectives is where you as a professional comes in.

Your Role and Responsibility as a Winning Professional

The best professionals understand their value comes in the execution of the strategy, and therefore this defines the professional's role and responsibility. The role and responsibility of the professional providing strategic services and solutions is to accelerate the objective of the client's strategic plan, ensure its success and the desired outcomes, and if possible, increase the overall measurable business results.

As a professional, you must understand the value you and your services bring to clients. You are able to reduce time, ensure the objectives are achieved and improved through your services. You apply your services to the client's business operations. In the end, to be of value, you, not your firm, not your colleagues, and certainly not your client, has to know how you and your services impact the following:
  1. Reduce the time horizon to achieve the client's strategic objectives,
  2. Ensure the objectives are achieved, and/or
  3. Increase or improve the value of the client's objectives.
If you cannot address one or several or all of the criteria, you are not thinking strategically or your services are a commodity.

Action Exercises

  1. Make a commitment to study your current clients' measurable business results that they have gained through the use of your services and solutions. Do this today. Tomorrow is too late.
  2. Every project you begin needs to start with a baseline of the client's current achievements and operations. This means how is the client currently performing? How many widgets are being produced? How much does each widget cost to produce? How long does it take to produce one widget? Ten widgets? How much executive time and attention is devoted to the production of widgets? Could the time and attention be devoted elsewhere, somewhere more valuable? (the answer is always yes) Baseline, baseline, baseline. Always baseline. So many consultants, professionals, and technicians never think to baseline because they are too busy and are impatient to get started. Don't be one of them.
  3. Be able to articulate your value in terms of the measurable business results (MBRs) using the criteria (one through three) above. Write the answers to these questions in as complex language as you desire. The point is do it--don't try to perfect your answers here or you will never get started. Perfection is your enemy at this point. Then, once your answers are written, rewrite and rewrite until you can boil all your technical jargon out of your statements to the point where your 16-year-old daughter or son can understand them (if you can get them to sit down long enough). Make your statements in plain English. Be able to say them articulately and clearly when writing and speaking.
  4. Put your value where your mouth is. Your value is so crystal clear and you are so assured of the value you can bring to your clients that you are more than willing to place these terms in a statement of work or contract. Don't believe you can deliver? Then you are not going to compete the way you can and should and you will be relegated as a commodity competing on price and margin reductions for the remainder of your career (which may not be that long).
  5. GO OUT and MEET as many prospective clients that have similar needs to the results you can deliver. Test your message--until you break through the noise and clutter that is preoccupying the client's mind and gain the client's attention through results rather than the superlatives all the other vendors are hawking--because now you stand out. You are different. You bring value and you have moved to the top of the heap, and you are in an entire different category of providers from the perspective of the client. You have moved to delivering value and achieving their strategic objectives, up from a vendor hawking features, feeds and speeds.

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